Flares, for all the safety they provide in times of boating distress, have their drawbacks. First, a flare is a pyrotechnic device, meaning it is combustible. Second, flares have expiration dates and must be properly disposed of, which is always a chore for boaters. Sirius Signal is a company that developed a battery-operated alternative to flares that is Coast Guard-approved, the Weems and Plath SOS C-1001 Distress Light.
We had a sample sent to our office and also had a chance to see a demonstration at the 2016 Miami International Boat Show, where it won an Innovation Award. As Sirius explained, the signal complies with all U.S. Coast Guard requirements for night visual distress signals as found in the Code of Federal Regulations: 46 CFR 161.013. It features a durable plastic handle (that fits in a rod holder) with an LED system encased atop it. When you twist the top, the lights activate and will flash for up to 60 hours. It floats and can emit light up to 10 nautical miles. $99.95;www.weems-plath.com